Essex, Mass. - Vital Records


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Essex, Mass. Register of
Births (1843-1861), Marriages (1843-1854), and Deaths (1843-1855)

Kurt A. Wilhelm, January 2000

Contents

    Description of the Register of
    Births, Marriages, and Deaths

  1. Introduction
  2. Births
  3. Marriages
  4. Deaths

  5. Index of Births

  6. Surnames
  7. Names
  8. Parents
  9. Place Names

  10. Index of Marriages

  11. Surnames
  12. Names
  13. Parents
  14. Place Names
    Index of Deaths
  1. Surnames
  2. Names
  3. Parents
  4. Spouses
  5. Place Names

  6. Transcription of Register of Births, Marriages, Deaths

  7. Births, p. 1- 19 (1843-1851)
  8. Births, p. 21- 39 (1851-1856)
  9. Births, p. 41- 65 (1857-1861)
  10. Marriages, p. 69- 83 (1843-1854)
  11. Deaths, p. 85-99 (1843-1848)
  12. Deaths, p. 101-117 (1848-1855)
    Tables
  1. Number of births by year and gender
  2. Birthplaces
  3. Number of births by occupation of father
  4. Place of birth of parents
  5. Number of marriages by occupation of groom
  6. Number of deaths by year
  7. Number of deaths by gender and age group
  8. Number of deaths by occupation


Description of the Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths

Introduction

The Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths (hereafter called the Register) is the first book of vital records kept by the Essex town clerk. Other books are called Register of Births, volume 1, Register of Marriages, volume 1, and Register of Deaths, volume 1. It has 118 numbered pages. A record runs across two facing pages, so only the left hand, or odd number page is given in these indices.

The Essex vital records were not indexed, until this report was first issued in 1999. So far, only the first volume has been indexed. Comments in the transcription are enclosed in brackets []. Blank columns in the register are indicated in the transcription with a dash [-]. The format of all dates have been changed to day-month-year.

The Registrars were Aaron L. Burnham, O. H. P. Sargent, Charles Howes

Births

Birth records are found on pages 1 through 65 of the Register. There are columns for line number, date registered, name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, name of parents, occupation of father, residence of parents, and birthplace of parents. The last column of the Register, informant, was not transcribed. A total of 797 births are listed (Table 1). The average number of births between 1844 and 1861 is 43 births per year.

Table 1. Number of births by year

YEAR GENDER TOTAL YEAR GENDER TOTAL
BLANK M F BLANK M F
BLANK 2     2 1852 1 23 27 51
1843   10 12 22 1853   25 27 52
1844   7 10 17 1854   23 36 59
1845   12 21 33 1855   15 24 39
1846   18 17 35 1856 3 28 26 57
1847   9 16 25 1857 2 21 18 41
1848   14 18 32 1858 3 18 23 44
1849   15 15 30 1859 1 16 32 49
1850   22 15 37 1860 2 30 32 64
1851   36 24 60 1861   22 26 48
          Total 14 364 419 797

There is one birth record that seems to be in error. That is the birth of Ancill K. Burnham, born 4 February 1845 to Mark and Polly Burnham, which is given on page 3 of the Register. An Ancill K. Butman was born about 1845.

Date Registered. The first records were registered on June 4, 1844. Births during the previous twelve months were recorded in June until 1850, when they were registered in January. In 1853 the date of registration was not noted.

This column is also used for notes concerning the births which are found in the records. In particular they are of three types: to indicate twins, a "colored" child, or an illegitimate birth. Six sets of twins are recorded. The birth year and surname of each were: 1845 Burnham, 1853 Woodman and Story, 1856 Mahoney, 1860 Story, and in 1861 Lendall. Those identified as being "colored" were Fields, Jerrett, and Richardson. An illegitimate birth was recorded for Amanda Morgan. Any others were not specifically noted.

Birthplace. The birthplace is left blank for births from 1843 to the first part of 1849. From 1849 on, the school district within Essex is given as the birthplace. They were Central, East, Falls, Hog Island, Thompson Island, North, and South. Most births were at home, a few may have been at the home of relatives. Locations and number of births for each location is shown below (Table 2).

Table 2. Birthplaces listed in the Register with number of births recorded for each location.

Essex 40 Hog Island 8 Gloucester, MA 1
almshouse 1 North 18 Port Hood, NS 1
Central 155 South 55 Truro, NS 1
East 44 Thompson Island 173 blank 176
Falls 123 Boston, MA 1 Total 797

Name of Parents. Until 1858, the general format is to list the father's and mother's first name, followed by the family name. From 1858 onwards, the mother's maiden name was also listed. It is placed in parenthesis in the transcription. There are a few cases where only the mother is named. An unusual record is that where the parents are named "Lucy Haskell & John Cogswell (supposed)".

The family name with the greatest number of births was Burnham, with 125 births recorded. Other family names with 15 or births were: Andrews (70), Story (68), Perkins (24), Low (23), Mears (19), McKenzie (16), and Lufkin (16).

Occupation of Father. Note that in the following list (Table 3) the number of records for each father's occupation is given, and not necessarily the number of individuals for each occupation. For example, "expressman" is listed three times; which may be three birth records for the same man who was an expressman. In several instances more than one occupation is given, such as: "mariner & shoemaker," or "yeoman, carpenter, etc."

Table 3. Number of recorded births by occupation of father.

blank 13 Farmer & Butcher 2 Miller 3 Spar maker 6
Barber 1 Farmer & Trader 1 Minister 1 Stabler 1
Blacksmith 15 Farming 2 Musician 1 Stage Driver 1
Block maker 2 Fisherman 2 Oar maker 2 Stone Cutter 1
Boat Builder 1 Gentleman 2 Painter 5 Stone Layer 1
Butcher 5 Harness maker 2 Pedlar 1 Stone Mason 1
Cabinet Maker 1 Hotel Keeper 1 Pilot 1 Tailor 2
Cabinetmaker 1 Hotel keeper & Stabler 1 Pump & Block maker 6 Tanner 2
Carpenter 27 House Carpenter 4 Rigger 1 Teacher 1
Carver 3 Housewright 13 Rope maker 5 Teamster/ Teamer 12
Carver & Gilder 4 Housewright & Joiner 1 Salesman 1 Trader 10
Carver & Painter 1 Joiner 11 Saw Miller 1 Treenail maker 2
Caulker 7 Laborer 81 Sawyer 1 Turner 1
Chaise & Harness maker 1 Line Maker 2 School Teacher 3 Varnisher 1
Clergyman 2 Line Mfgr. 3 Sheve maker 1 Wheelwright 7
Clerk 1 Machinist 1 Ship Carpenter 27 Yeoman 71
Cooper 5 Mariner 16 Ship Joiner 16 Yeoman & Ship Carpenter 1
Cordwainer 3 Mariner & Shoemaker 1 Ship Master 1 Yeoman & Teamster 1
Currier 6 Mason 1 Shipbuilder 2 Yeoman, Carpenter, etc 1
Daguerrotype Artist 1 Mast maker 1 Shipwright 144    
Expressman 3 Mattress maker 1 Shoemaker 167    
Farmer 27 Merchant 2 Soldier 3 Total 797

Residence. For 777 of the 797 births the residence of the parents was given as Essex. Other locations (with one instance each, unless otherwise noted) were: Boston, Cambridge, Gloucester, Manchester (2), Newton, Rockport, Roxbury, Salisbury, Canada, Nova Scotia, unknown, and blank (5). There was one instance where the father's residence was Manchester and the mother's was Essex, and another where it was noted that the mother was a resident of Gloucester, but within a few months of the birth registration she moved to Essex.

Birthplace of parents. The birthplace of the parents was not listed until 1849. The number of records where the father was born in Essex is significantly higher than for that of the mother (Table 4).

Table 4. Place of birth of parents

PLACE OF BIRTH Mother Father PLACE OF BIRTH Mother Father
BLANK 185 194 South Carolina 1 0
Essex 296 354 Canada 43 44
Mass. 180 124 Ireland 49 44
Maine 28 22 England/ Scotland 6 9
New Hampshire 9 5 French Guyana 0 1
      TOTAL 797 797


Marriages

The register of marriages are found on pages 69 through 83. There are columns for line number, date registered, name, status (single or widowed)/ marriage number, age, occupation, date married, birthplace, residence, names of parents, residence of father, and who conducted the marriage ceremony.

Dates and number of marriages: A total of 138 marriages are recorded. Between 1845 and 1854 there were an average of 13 marriages per year. The earliest recorded marriage occurred 16 May 1843, and is one of only three marriages which are recorded for 1843. The most recent marriage occurred 12 February 1854, and is one of five marriages recorded for January or February 1854.

Status/ Marriage number: For marriages through 1849, the status of the individual was listed as single or widowed. There were 124 first marriages, and 15 widowers who were married during this period. From 1850 onwards, this column was used to indicate the marriage number. There were 114 first marriages, 17 second marriages, and 1 person who was being married for the third time.

Age: The average age of the 264 individuals, who had their age listed, was 25.7 years. The youngest was 15, followed by four who married at age 16. There were three people over age 70, the eldest being age 72.

Occupation: The following table (Table 5) shows occupations that are listed in the marriage register, and the number of occurrences of each.

Table 5. Number of marriages by occupation of grooms

Brass Finisher 1 Joiner 2 Shoe Cutter 1
Butcher 3 Laborer 1 Shoemaker 30
Cabinetmaker 4 Line & Twine Maker 1 Sparmaker 1
Carpenter 7 Machinist 1 Stageman 1
Carver & Gilder 1 Mariner 4 Tailor 1
Caulker 2 Mason 1 Tanner 2
Cordwainer 4 Painter 2 Trader 7
Druggist 1 Ship Carpenter 6 Turner 1
Farmer 4 Ship Joiner 5 Umbrella Mfgr. 1
Fisherman 2 Ship Master 2 Victualler 1
Housewright 2 Shipwright 23 Yeoman 9

Deaths

Death are recorded on page 85 through 117 of the Register. There are columns for date registered, name, sex, status (married, single), age in years, months, days, occupation, date died, burial place, cause of death, birthplace, and name of parents or husband. In the transcription, w/o stands for "wife of", and wid/o stands for "widow of."

The period covered is from July 1843 through 1855. There are 357 deaths recorded. From 1844 through 1855 there were an average of 29 deaths per year. The number in each year is shown below (Table 6).

Table 6. Number of deaths by year

Year Deaths Year Deaths Year Deaths
1843 10 1848 43 1853 32
1844 18 1849 18 1854 26
1845 17 1850 22 1855 38
1846 30 1851 46    
1847 32 1852 25 Total 357

Gender And Age. Of the 357 recorded deaths, 209 were females and 148 were males.

As can be seen in Table 7, the greatest number of deaths occurred within the first ten years. The oldest person who died in Essex, widow Margaret Langdon (or Langden), died 16 October 1847, at age 95. She was the daughter of William and Tabitha Goldsmith.

Table 7. Number of deaths by sex and age group.

Age Group Female Male Total
Deaths
Age Group Female Male Total
Deaths
0- 9 62 70 132 50-59 12 8 20
10-19 17 6 23 60-69 18 10 28
20-29 29 10 39 70-79 20 21 41
30-39 16 8 24 80-89 25 11 36
40-49 7 2 9 90-99 3 2 5
        Total 209 148 357

Occupation. Besides occupation of the deceased, this column is also used to note Place of Death, where it was not in Essex. Places named, and the number of occurrences of each are: Boston, MA (2), Danvers (1), Gloucester (2), Hamilton (2), Ipswich (1), Roxbury (1), South Boston (1), Wenham (3), and Manchester, NH (1).

It is somewhat surprising that the number of farmers, or yeoman, in the death records is much greater than shipwrights and shoemakers combined. It is suggested that men in retirement worked their farms, and so the older population were farmers.

Table 8. Number of deaths by occupation.

Blacksmith 1 Gentleman 2 Shoemaker   4
Butcher 1 Joiner 1 Stone cutter 2
Cabinetmaker 1 Laborer 3 Student 1
Carpenter 2 Mariner 2 Various 1
Clergyman 2 Seaman 1 Wheelwright 1
Clothier 1 Ship Joiner 1 Yeoman 28
Cordwainer 5 Shipwright 6 Total 67

Burial Place. From 1844 to 1846 the listed burial place was the Essex Old Burying Ground (abbreviated EBG in the transcription), which is found listed 54 times. The burial place was left blank from 1846 through 1850 (137 instances), and from 1851 trough 1855 the name of the town was recorded (Essex in 161 instances). Other towns listed were Newburyport, Wenham, and Gloucester (twice).

Cause of Death. Of the 357 recorded deaths, 26 do not have a cause of death given. Of the remaining 331 deaths, 5 were accidental and 326 or 99% were from disease. The most frequently given cause of death was consumption, which was usually tuberculosis (103), followed by dysentery (44), lung fever (22), and old age (21). Consumption was listed as the cause of death more frequently for women than for men. Of those under 50 who died of consumption, there were 47 women and 8 were men.

The accidental deaths were scalding, two related to carriages or wagons, and two suicides. William P. Sargent, age 1, was scalded to death in 1844. Jonathan Story, Jr., age 74, a farmer, was killed in January 1849 by a "loaded sled passing over his body." John Cogswell, age 71 died from a fall from a carriage in 1855. In 1847 Benjamin Andrews, age 61, "hanged himself, cause unknown," and Caleb Andrews, age 79, committed suicide. It is noteworthy that although shipbuilding was very active during this period, and many men are known to suffer accidents resulting in the loss of fingers or toes, there were no work related accidental deaths from 1844 through 1855.

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Copyright 2000, 2010 by Kurt A. Wilhelm